The Mets starting rotation has a 3.18 ERA since May 26.
"I think they can sustain it," Terry Collins told reporters earlier this week. "And I still go on the fact that I think we’re catching the ball better and, therefore, we’re pitching better."
In the Star-Ledger, Jorge Castillo explains, "In all, three-fifths of the projected starting rotation is not in place. But, somehow, the Mets starting rotation continued to pitch beyond expectations."
Overall, the rotation has a 3.78 ERA this season, good for ninth best in the game.
After a tough start to the season, the rotation has settled in nicely, bolstered by the continued emergence of Matt Harvey as one of the elite pitchers in the game, and very positive developments from Jeremy Hefner. Much of the team's chances for success in the second half rest on both of those players, and the rotation as a whole maintaining this pace, or perhaps even improving...
Jeremy Hefner, unfortunately, is not likely to see this high level of success continue. Even during his recent run of exceptional pitching, he has outperformed his peripherals which puts him in line for a regression. That said, given his mechanical changes and increased velocity, that regression is not likely to bring him back to his early season struggles, but finishing the year with an ERA in the high 3's or low 4's seems a safe bet for him.
The two pitchers most likely to have second halves that mirror their firsts fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. Harvey's success has been no mirage and with prudent management of his workload to prevent fatigue, there's little reason to think he won't stick to it, matching or even slightly improving his current ERA of 2.35. Dillon Gee, despite a very rough start, has been solidly middling since and his advanced stats suggest he'll continue as such, putting up an ERA in the low or mid 4's, a serviceable season from a fifth starter.
The rest of the rotation is a lot tougher to pin down. Wheeler showed a ton of promise against the Giants before the break, but he's had some challenging starts too. His walk rate is way too high and his 3.54 ERA is benefiting from a low BABIP that is not going to stay that low for long. If the start against the Giants is a sign of things to come, he could have a very encouraging second half. But if he's still developing slowly (i.e. like most rookie starters, even the good ones), we may see more ineffective starts from him than effective ones.
Jon Niese is a real wildcard. Before a partial tear of his rotator cuff landed him on the DL, there were some good signs from him, but given the nature of his injury, and time he's gone without pitching, he's likely to be set back somewhat. Keeping up his current ERA of 4.32 would leave him with a disappointing season given the expectations at the start of the year, but considering that a month ago there were questions about his even being able to start 2014, it'll be good to have him out there to start shaking off the dust.
As for Carlos Torres, who will probably be holding down the last spot in the rotation until Niese's return, we just haven't seen enough to really assess what he can do in an extended trial in the rotation. Will he show the same effectiveness as he has in AAA and in the bullpen? Or will he look like the 2009 Carlos Torres who had a 6.65 ERA as a starter? If I could answer that question, I'd have 30 ball clubs falling over themselves to hire me. As it is, we're stuck in the "wait and see" mode.
The rotation has been an intriguing and exciting part of the last month of good baseball and if things go the Mets' way, there's every chance they'll stay this good or maybe even improve as the season progresses. Whether or not they do may be the difference between a team that plays competitively, perhaps enjoying the role of spoiler, and a team looking forward to a protected draft pick.